More women than ever before can now legally use cannabis in the United States. Maybe you use it to cope with medical issues like anxiety, migraines or seizures. And, even though there’s no conclusive research on its effects, you may find marijuana helps you more than anything else you’ve tried.
So, when you found out about your pregnancy, you may not have given a second thought to your marijuana habit. You might have even looked forward to the relief cannabis might provide for morning sickness and aches and pains.
Not so fast — smoking weed while pregnant isn’t the safe solution you think it is.
Yes, cannabis is legal across many states in the U.S. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a smart healthcare choice when you’re carrying a baby. Modern usage of cannabis is still very new, and the dangers of smoking weed while pregnant are still up for debate.
We know this topic can be confusing, especially if you’ve previously found relief in using cannabis to treat other conditions. You may be ashamed to admit you’ve smoked marijuana during your pregnancy, and you may not be sure who to talk to about your substance use.
We’re not here to judge you. Instead, we’re here to answer your questions about smoking marijuana while pregnant — so you can make the best decision for you and your baby.
Please note: The information in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Please speak with a local medical professional for guidance.
Is Smoking Weed While Pregnant Bad?
With the legalization of cannabis in many states across the country, marijuana is now available to many women during their pregnancies. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates 2 to 5 percent of pregnant women use cannabis — but that number is likely higher, due to discrepancies in self-reporting drug use during pregnancy.
However, just because many women are smoking pot while pregnant doesn’t mean it’s a safe choice. Marijuana is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning no substantial research can be done regarding its effects on pregnancy. That means there are no proven benefits of smoking weed while pregnant — but many potential risks.
There is simply no way to know how smoking weed when pregnant may affect your baby’s development. For that reason, your doctor will never recommend the use of cannabis during pregnancy and will instead find safer medications for any conditions you have.
Effects of Smoking Weed While Pregnant
So, does smoking weed while pregnant harm the baby?
While there have been no long-term federal studies on the side effects of smoking weed while pregnant, there is evidence that marijuana can have negative effects on a baby in utero. Here’s what researchers have found so far:
- Marijuana users experience an increased rate of preterm births. A 2019 study from the Journal of the American Medical Associate found a sharp increase in preterm birth rates among women who used cannabis during pregnancy. Preterm births were twice as common in marijuana users in the study. The authors concluded that marijuana is “likely unsafe” for pregnant mothers.
- Marijuana usage is associated with reduced birth weight. An analysis of 24 studies showed that prenatal exposure to cannabis was often linked to low birth weight. Reduced birth weight can cause a host of problems for newborns, including low oxygen levels, difficulty maintaining body temperature and breathing problems.
- THC can affect a developing fetus. Whether you are smoking weed while pregnant or taking another form of cannabis like edibles, the THC in the plant can travel through your bloodstream to your developing baby. There are no conclusive studies demonstrating the effects of THC on an unborn child, but smoking cannabis while pregnant will put your child at risk of these unknown effects.
These are just a few of the potential risks of smoking weed while pregnant. A lot is still unknown about cannabis’ effect on pregnancy and a fetus, so we encourage pregnant women to be safe, not sorry. Expectant mothers often want the best for their children, and smoking weed while pregnant simply cannot offer that security.
Smoking Weed While Pregnant: Should You Do It?
As a pregnant woman, you are ultimately in charge of your health and the health of your baby during pregnancy. You will be responsible for making the best decisions for both of you.
If you have used marijuana in the past or are currently smoking marijuana while pregnant, we highly recommend that you stop use as soon as possible. Your child deserves a healthy in-utero development, and that starts with you putting healthy substances into your body. If you’ve used cannabis to treat medical conditions in the past, talk to your obstetrician about safer options during your pregnancy.
Continuing to use marijuana during your pregnancy can cause legal issues, too. If you live in a state where marijuana is illegal, there is the chance that your local Child Protective Services will be contacted after your delivery. If you or your child test positive for traces of cannabis, your child could be taken into foster care, and you would need to complete certain steps before you could regain your custody.
But, if you’re concerned about how smoking weed while pregnant may affect your parental rights, you can take some preemptive steps:
- Temporary guardianship: You can choose a friend or family member to temporarily take custody of your child after birth. This can give you the chance to sober up and improve your situation. When you’re ready, you can take back custody of your child.
- Adoption: If you have a serious addiction to marijuana, or marijuana is just one of the drugs you are struggling with, you may decide to place your child with another family and give them a life you cannot provide. Adoption will permanently terminate your parental rights, but you can maintain a relationship with your child and their parents in the years to come. Contact an adoption agency like American Adoptions to learn more.
Wondering when to stop smoking weed when pregnant? The answer is now. If you’re struggling to do so, speak with your personal physician or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). You will then be connected to the resources you need.
With a little bit of help, you can kick this habit and still be the parent that your child deserves.